During the gulf spill with BP, and more recently with Apple, the way to protect your portfolio was to use options. You don't have to buy expensive puts to protect your shares if you believe Boeing will exit on the other side and you have no intention of selling your shares. For the record, I view this event as a setup to buy shares, but I will get to that in a moment.
If you own Boeing and simply want to sleep better at night while the company travels through the current turbulence, sell call options against your shares. You have an almost zero risk of having the shares called away before expiration day if you sell back month (ex. May or August expiration) out of the money calls.
If Boeing recovers and trades above the option strike price, no problem -- simply buy the calls back before the expiration. Shares may increase in price and you may lose money on the options, but consider that an insurance payment that lowered your risk in case Boeing continues to trade lower.
Chances are the increase in implied volatility will enable Boeing investors to gain if Boeing stabilizes soon anyway. If the mess continues for long and Boeing takes its time like BP and Apple, then selling covered calls makes even more sense.
If you're bargain hunting with Boeing, you may wish to sit on your hands for a while. The shares haven't fallen very far considering the headline risk. The only possible upside to buying here is that the issue clears up within the next few days AND sentiment doesn't shift.
For long-term buy-and-hold investors who want to gain exposure regardless of the price (maybe you're seeking a dividend), you may also want to consider exploiting the fear pushing option premiums higher. An idea for entry may be to sell the February $77.50 strike price put option for a current price of $5.
By selling put options instead of buying the stock immediately, you decline your total exposure from a current share price of $73.40 down to $72.50. If Boeing shares increase above $77.50, your total gain is capped at $5, but a 6.8% gain in less than a month isn't bad. Shares need to trade above $82.50 before buying shares directly increases an investor's profit over selling puts.
Lastly, remember that the key to investing is not to try to make the most money on any given investment, but to gain the most edge you can while managing risk.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.